Are your employees experiencing loneliness when working remotely?
Commutes may be gone but employees experiencing loneliness when working remotely may become a mental health issue.
May 2022 is mental health month and this year the theme focuses on loneliness, which has been on the increase over the last 2 years with working remotely. Those affected mostly are single person households. Over the last 10 years those living on their own increased by 8.3% (2021), in London 25.8% and in Scotland 36% of households are single person households. Those living by themselves and working remotely may go hours or days without having a face-to-face conversation, increasing the likelihood of loneliness and mental health issues.
So, after 2 years of lockdowns and working remotely, how do we prevent loneliness when working remotely which could be damaging employees mental health, lowering their productivity and standard of living. Whilst we have adapted quickly, does the virtual world have more cons than positives when relating to your employee’s mental health and team building?
Ask yourself, if your employees are fully remote how frequently do you or managers speak with them during the week? Are mechanisms in place to manage workloads, ensuring employees do not become overwhelmed or burnout? Having a 5-minute conversation once a week is not effectively managing employees or how to prevent loneliness when working remotely.
Responsibility of an employer
Ultimately, employers have a duty of care for employees and should take all reports of mental health issues seriously, making reasonable adjustments within the workplace to support those experiencing mental health problems.
Businesses will benefit from preventing employees feeling lonely when working from home, as employee’s productivity will increase with a greater sense of belonging. Employees not experiencing a healthy social life due to loneliness, are missing one of key fundamental elements of social wellbeing. This leads to employees being unable to experience positive feelings such as happiness or enjoyment.
6 ways a business can prevent employees being lonely when working remotely
1. Urging employees to work somewhere outside their house once a week
Work is no longer the place, rather what the person does. Urging employees to change their working environment helps to increase focus and creativity, this simply could be going to a coffee shop for half the day (ensuring good Wi-Fi) or opting to work from friends or family living spaces decreasing loneliness when working remotely.
Individuals have opted to move country within similar time zones, allowing them to achieve travelling ambitions whilst still developing their career. This gives them opportunities to meet new people, tackling their loneliness. Providing this option to employees can increase staff retention, critical in the current recruitment climate.
2. Organising team bonding/in-person meeting quarterly
Activities such as escape rooms, product launches or work night-outs help employees build more connections and friendships with colleagues.
Shared working spaces are growing across the globe in many cities, renting spaces quarterly or monthly is a great way of getting teams together when you do not have office space. Meeting in person every so often helps to build relationships.
3. Promoting healthy morning routines
Starting your day rushing around in a chaotic state can negatively impact your day and working life. Utilising the hours spent getting dressed and commuting to work by taking the time to get outside, complete life admin tasks or exercising in the morning, will free up time in the evening, helping to provide a better work-life balance.
4. Allowing flexible hours
The traditional 9-5 working structure is becoming outdated, especially in the Tech industry. There is becoming less of a necessity for people to be stuck to a desk with strict hours, letting employees structure their hours more freely if business demands can facilitate. .
Employers should consider creating policies including core hours as well as hours to be completed each day. For example, if an employee has a non-medical appointment and require an hour out of the day this can be made up any time during the day. Further to this, employees may be more productive early morning compared to late afternoon, opting to work 7am-3pm. Higher productivity results in better business results.
5. Provide employees with good communication tools
Over the last couple of years businesses have been experimenting with lots of different communication tools such as Slack. Slack is a communication software that helps connect remote teams from sharing information such as files or simply used as a communication tool for sending direct messages, audio, and video calls.
6. Encouraging working relationships
Forced meetings can be uncomfortable and awkward, this is where a ‘buddy’ scheme can be helpful for employees especially when working remotely. The employees have a direct contact for any work-related questions; employers should also encourage general chit-chat helping to boost working relationships.
Google meet or Zoom can be utilised for a five-minute chat over video with a coffee to make it feel less formal or awkward.
Working remotely has a lot of benefits including increased work-life balance with flexibility and freedom. However, the success of having a remote team comes down to communication and continuing to manage your team effectively. Considering and monitoring employees’ workloads, whilst helping to building relationships with co-workers decreasing the likelihood of loneliness when working remotely.
Watch our webinar
We hosted a webinar focusing on boosting employee mental health to boost business performance